Jeroen, Monte Cervino ('de berg' in Dutch, the mountain) manager, routesetter but most of all climber, asked me to help him with the Monte Cervino/NKBV Via Ferrata clinics that he planned.
I'm more into leadclimbing trad routes then walking iron paths but I was up for this new kind of teaching.
All around you hear people landing in serious accidents on Via Ferrata's. Last August 2010 a helicopter flew out when Dennis and me were climbing the Salbit (CH), it turned out to be a serious Via Ferrata accident. A couple weeks later we heard the news that climbing legend Kurt Albert died in a Via Ferrata accident.
And I remember me with my brother and parents on a Via Ferrata with a guide over 15 years ago. Just attached on a sling and a screwgate krab. Clipping over to the next wire? 'Just hold tight and move over the krab.'
When you don't know any better you'll never know that it's actually quite dangerous what you're doing.
With that all in mind I thought it's very, very important to have Via Ferrata clinics, especially in a country as the Netherlands, where we don't grow up with mountains around us.
Our focus in the clinics was not as much to learn all Via Ferrata skills (as for that you need to build up general experience with climbing Via Ferrata lines and that's not what happens in just 3 hrs. time) but more make people more conscious of all potential factors on a Via Ferrata.
We started with some theory involving the use of a Via Ferrata set and a helmet, a bit of Via Ferrata history and preparation in the valley before you attend a Via Ferrata.
Then we focused on short-term preparation involving weather forecast, topo, what to pack in your rucksack and more.
And finally we could start climbing. First half-way the wall. Abseil down and try again.
Then higher, all the way to the top of the wall. Most had never been so high, so it was quite an experience.
We practised all kinds of skills like passing other people, how to help with mild accidents, what to do with severe accidents, what to do with thunder and lightning, and we tried to teach consciousness with answering together questions like 'why do you have to wear a helmet', 'what happens when a 30kg child falls in an Via Ferrata set', 'do you know how to get back when you're on the top of a Via Ferrata climb', 'where to go with lightning'...
The participants were all very happy to gain that much information in just 3 hrs. time.
So, Jeroen and I were satisfied. Via Ferrata clinic take 1: great success :)
Hopefully we can keep on giving this kind of courses and so prevent accidents and teach the beauties of outdoor activities.
Interested in a clinic? Please contact me to see what we can arrange on Monte Cervino.
Were you on the course? All pictures Jeroen and me took are on Picasa here.